Wanted – New Pastor for Small, Country Church
We couldn’t help but laugh when we read this supposed want ad:
“Wanted: Pastor for small, country church. Must be 28 years old with at least 30 years preaching experience. Sermons are to be life-transforming, enjoyable to all and no more than 20 minutes long. Must have a heart for the youth, work well with the elderly, participate in all church sports, visit every hospitalized member, run board meetings according to Robert’s Rules of Order. Needs successful negotiating skills, quality singing voice and spouse who play’s piano or guitar. Skills needed for repairing all computer and sound equipment, church van and bathroom plumbing. Office hours 6a.m. to 12 p.m. Salary $100 per week after all church bills have first been paid. Will preferably tithe $50 per week not including fellowship offerings, wear Armani or Brookes Brothers suits, bring along a large loaning library and drive a Kia. Regular ministries will include evangelistic outreaches, 30 house calls per day on church members, continuous availability in the church office whenever parishioners phone. Raising the dead on Sunday mornings a plus.”
Whether you’re looking at churches in Singapore, Buenos Aries, Ukarumpa or the township of Chevy Chase. . . when reading this “want ad”, pastors all over the world will laugh out loud at its penetrating truth! (And then, maybe, some might cry!)
What underlies this “want ad’s” humor is that the job of a local, church pastor is usually defined by the people in the congregation. Before a pastor is hired, someone official in the church organization (a Board, a Presbyter, etc.) most likely has checked to see if the potential pastor has all his or her credentials, licenses and doctrinal agreements in line.
But once the pastor is hired and hits the ground running, the people in the congregation begin to lay out their expectations on the performance of the new pastor and spouse. And these demands are very often, very similar to those in the faux “want ad” above! But the work of a true pastor in the Lord is never defined by the congregation. It’s not even defined by the Board, either! The Truth is that God has already defined the character and responsibilities of a local congregational pastor.
One of the words the Bible uses for what we call “pastor” is “overseer” (like in 1 Tim 3.1.) Here it gives a list of characteristics that God considers important, and it doesn’t even include “good preaching”, “running a Sunday School” or “visitation”!
Here’s what God considers important:
“The pastor is to have a good reputation, have only one spouse, be self-controlled, serious-minded, live a respectful life, be freely hospitable to guests, a ready teacher; not an excessive drinker or violent, but gentle; not quarrelsome or a lover of money; able to manage the household and children well so they are respectful.”
Look that over well — do you see anything about the pastor’s end-times’ theology? His political affiliation? His clothing or his office hours? Does God indicate whether his suits must be Armani or Brookes, or his theology Calvin or Arminius? Not here! And nowhere else in the New Testament, either!
Another strong “hint” as to a pastor’s God-given responsibilities is found in Heb 13.17:
“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this joyfully, and not sadly, for that would be of no advantage to you.”
Pastors are called “leaders”, and they are exactly that: “spiritual leaders” given by God to watch over their congregations — lovingly giving their people guidelines, counsel and spiritual teachings to help them live more spiritually successful lives. So it says, “Obey them…” In the Bible’s original language, the word “obey” literally means, “yield to your spiritual leaders” or “comply” with them.
If you ever find yourself needing to write a want-ad for a “new pastor”, how about using this one?
“Wanted: Someone who the people in the local congregation can follow — even as that pastor follows Christ.”